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Best Jobs for Mechanical Engineers by Degree Level

best jobs for mechanical engineers

Due to its immense demand in almost all the world domains, a career in mechanical engineering can be highly challenging, rewarding, and lucrative. Many employment opportunities are available for those holding mechanical engineering knowledge or expertise. Looking into the various options available in this field is crucial if you are pursuing a career in mechanical engineering, are obtaining this degree, or have already graduated. This article focuses on the best jobs for mechanical engineers, career outlook, many-fold career opportunities, and many other critical points.

Today’s mechanized world runs on machines, and there is no other way to say it. Understanding why and how machines work is not an intuitive endeavor. It requires years of educational insight and practical experience to delve into the intricacies of technology and precise handiwork employed in seemingly simple machines. Therefore, a mechanical engineering degree creates professionals who can precisely build devices with moving parts, ranging from minute objects to gigantic machines. Robot manufacturing teams include mechanical engineers, and so do medical device manufacturing teams, depicting this profession’s versatility and high demand.

It isn’t easy to name a manufactured thing in this world that a mechanical engineer did not play a role in designing and developing. The only primary distinction between mechanical and the other forms of engineering is that mechanical engineering focuses on moving objects—planes and cars, instead of stationary things like buildings and bridges.

What Is Mechanical Engineering?

Mechanical engineering is one of the highly sought-after types of engineering focusing on the design, operation, production, and evaluation of machinery. Mechanical engineers typically learn about the materials necessary to design, develop, and maintain mechanical systems. Such skills allow them to delineate and establish industrial equipment and machinery systems. Transportation systems, weaponry, heating and cooling systems, medical devices, air, manufacturing plants, and watercraft builds.

Mechanical engineers can specialize in various disciplines and concentrations, some of which are as follows:

Design

Design is sometimes referred to as drafting and entails developing technical drawings and instructions that help in parts manufacturing.

Structural Analysis

Structural analysis is one of the many branches of mechanical and civil engineering. It targets questions like how and why machines and objects fail.

Kinematics

Kinematics delves into the movement of a singular object or a group of objects, known as a system.

Mechanics

Mechanics is a discipline that refers to the effects of a particular force on the matter.

Thermodynamics

Thermodynamics primarily focuses on transferring energy from one form to the other.

How To Become A Mechanical Engineer

Let’s look at the fundamental steps to becoming a mechanical engineer:

Step 1: Earn A Bachelor’s Degree In Mechanical Engineering From An Accredited Institution

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, attaining a Bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering is a prerequisite for most entry-level positions in this field. Aspirants may also opt for a two-year pre-engineering degree. Such individuals can then move to a four-year degree program to receive the remaining baccalaureate requirements. It is crucial to obtain a degree from an accredited institution, no matter the route. Most employers prefer a Bachelor’s degree from a program accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET).

The coursework for a Bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering typically includes intermediate and advanced mathematics, engineering and design, and life and physical sciences. It is common for students pursuing this degree to take relevant courses that prepare them for specialization in one or more disciplines of mechanical engineering. For instance, medical engineering technology coursework emphasizes the practical application of design principles relatively more than the theoretical approaches. Students may also have to undertake practical courses in the computer lab, working with advanced computer-aided design (CAD) software.

Bachelor’s degree programs in mechanical engineering usually culminate in co-ops or internships, which prove indispensable in providing practical experience in the field. In addition, students can also foster professional relationships and connections with mentors and industry contacts through these opportunities. Many renowned institutions offer the option of combining Bachelor’s and Master’s degree coursework as a part of a joint five-year program. Some institutions also offer five and six-year cooperative programs, which amalgamate classroom study with practical field employment.

Step 2: Pursue An Engineering License

All mechanical engineers in the United States who directly offer their services to the general public must hold a state license. Aspirants can apply for an engineering license after graduating with a Bachelor’s degree from an ABET-accredited engineering program. However, they also need to pass the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam, offered by the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying, to become licensed.

Engineers who have up to four years of practical experience can take the Principles and Practice of Engineering (PE) exam to become Professional Engineers (PEs). However, several states necessitate continuing education to maintain licensure. The licensing requirements come up at an equal or more excellent pedestal as those in their state. Some employers may also prefer licenses obtained from other states for employment.

Step 3: Get Certified and Increase Your Credibility

Earning certifications, such as the ones granted by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, is not compulsory for mechanical engineers but instead allows a professional to exhibit competency in particular fields of mechanical engineering. These fields may include advanced material mechanics, convection heat transfer, advanced control systems design, stress analysis, and dynamic systems. Although this step is optional, certifications tend to benchmark a professional’s skills for employers, helping them qualify for career growth. Similarly, joining professional mechanical engineering organizations and societies can help supplement credentials.

Which Skills Do Mechanical Engineers Need?

Pursuing a lucrative career in mechanical engineering depends on academic achievements and qualifications and a comprehensive set of skills. Some of the practical skills that can help boost a career in this field include the following:

Computer Skills

Complicated mechanical engineering processes use computers and several other automated tools. Several jobs rely greatly on computer-aided engineering (CAE) programs like computer-aided design (CAD) software. Therefore, working knowledge of standard programs can significantly help you find suitable opportunities.

Mechanical Expertise

Several mechanical engineering processes unfold in workshops. Thus, knowing how to use tools like hammers, spanners, screwdrivers, and wrenches proves immensely helpful in this field.

Strong Mathematics and Physics Foundation

Having a solid educational foundation in mathematics and physics can prove highly useful in working as a mechanical engineer. Since the field uses concepts relevant to energy, motion, and force, you can prosper in it by holding command of them.

How Much Do Mechanical Engineers Earn?

The particular salaries for mechanical engineers differ depending upon their academic qualification, experience, geographical location, and the kind of employer. Statisticians at the Bureau of Labor Statistics report mechanical engineers’ average annual compensation rate in 2021 was $95,300 per year and $45.82 per hour. The best jobs for mechanical engineers have salaries that are typically higher than other professionals because the educational process requires extensive training, education, and commitment compared to other degree programs.

Mechanical engineering graduates can opt for particular career options according to their interests and objectives and unearth exceptional earning potential in that field. That is because a professional’s specialization and experience usually dictate their earning potential. Freshly graduated mechanical engineering entering entry-level positions typically earn annual salaries ranging from $60,000-$65,000. However, those with five years or more experience can experience an average salary increase to more than $90,000 a year. Similarly, seasoned mechanical engineers in managerial positions with considerable expertise can earn more than $100,000 per year.

The geographical location of professionals also impacts their average pay scale. Although mechanical engineering graduates can find employment opportunities across the country, California, Michigan, and Texas employ the highest number of these professionals in the United States. In addition, mechanical engineers in the District of Columbia and New Mexico tend to earn the highest salaries, with their average annual wages coming well above $110,000.

Average Salaries For Mechanical Engineering Careers

Mechanical Engineers

  • Entry-level Positions (0-12 months): $62,760
  • Early Career (1-4 years): $68,370
  • Midcareer (5-9 years): $79,740
  • Experienced (10-19 years): $90,980

Mechanical Designers

  • Entry-level Positions (0-12 months): $53,080
  • Early Career (1-4 years): $55,750
  • Midcareer (5-9 years) : $57,790
  • Experienced (10-19 years): $65,570

Biomedical Engineers

  • Entry-level Positions (0-12 months): $61,980
  • Early Career (1-4 years): $66,470
  • Midcareer (5-9 years): $80,770
  • Experienced (10-19 years): $89,510

The Best Jobs for Mechanical Engineers

A mechanical engineering degree offers various employment opportunities, primarily because of the high demand for well-educated engineers that satisfy particular degree and technical knowledge requirements. Their diverse skill sets allow them to find jobs in various industries and sectors, including biotechnology, automobile, national defense, agriculture, manufacturing, and nanotechnology.

As one of the most broad-ranging engineering disciplines, mechanical engineers undertake tasks ranging from the planning, delineating, and designing tools to developing functioning equipment to the effective use and distribution of energy. The changing industry trends in today’s globalized world have mushroomed many exciting career opportunities for mechanical engineers.

Let’s look at the best jobs individuals with a mechanical engineering degree can pursue:

1. Automotive Engineer

Average Annual Salary: $101,970
Job Growth: 7%
Education: Bachelor’s

Contrary to popular belief, working in the automobile sector involves more than just checking the oil gauge, tire pressures, and gas tank. It involves delving into the internal operating systems and design of intricately built cars and vehicles. Thus, mechanical engineering graduates who attain a job as an automotive engineer develop and design the mechanical components and pieces of machinery related to trains, cars, and other automated vehicles. They are also responsible for design and production and research and development. These professionals are usually the pioneers of innovative ideas and strategies in the automobile industry, working for speed, energy efficiency, and comfort.

Automobile engineers are typically considered “behind the scenes” workers who partake in all aspects of vehicle performance and design, chalking out the mechanisms and systems of prototype cars. They also ensure that these vehicles fall at par with the parameters of cost-effectiveness and quality and thus analyze and mediate any design problems that may arise during their manufacture. Some standard requirements and skills that aspiring automotive engineers should possess to land a job and excel in their career include the following:

  • Expertise in computer-aided design programs
  • Insight in machine welding and tooling
  • Experience in assembly
  • Ability to design software systems

Aspiring students must consider a mechanical engineering program accredited by ABET since many institutions offer specialized Bachelor’s programs for automotive engineering. The ABET accreditation is undoubtedly a testament to the program’s technical and academic expertise, allowing students to develop emerging and innovative technologies for the future.

2. Maintenance Engineer

Average Annual Salary: $54,220
Job Growth: 8%
Education: Highschool Diploma

Maintenance engineers are responsible for performing and supervising diagnostic tests of equipment and machines to ensure their seamless functionality. Employment opportunities include large-scale plans and endeavor to maintain wide-scale processes like heating and cooling systems and production engines and equipment that perform continuous operations. Maintenance engineers may work individually or in a team to provide their services to all the machines within a single industrial plant.

3. Research And Development Supervisor

Average Annual Salary: $178,180
Job Growth: 11% (Faster than average)
Education: Bachelor’s degree

Research and development supervisors manage and direct processes related to delineating new systems. This process may entail improving current technology, researching innovative advances in the field, or testing customer reactions to prototypes, depending upon the industry. A Bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering allows aspirants the necessary skills to undertake supervisory roles, especially if they innately possess strong leadership suits.

4. Construction Engineer

Average Annual Salary: $88,050
Job Growth: 8%
Education: Bachelor’s degree

All the construction marvels of our world are the brainchildren of construction engineers who apply their analytical and problem-solving skills to chalk out sustainable designs. Construction engineers attain academic knowledge in mechanical engineering and apply it to construction projects. They may be responsible for servicing and maintaining machines and appliances a particular group uses for a project. They may also advise installing and operating heavy equipment to help develop system optimization efforts that can help in the construction project. Several construction companies hire mechanical engineers as specialized consultants for commercial building design and layout projects.

Construction engineers must possess excellent leadership and communication skills and pay extra attention to detail to excel. They play a fundamental role in designing, executing, and maintaining load-bearing structures such as the following:

  • Roadways
  • Railroads
  • Drainage and sewer systems
  • Buildings

It is common for construction workers to specialize in particular types of projects or disciplines, such as the following:

  • Building commercial buildings or housing schemes
  • Installing electrical systems
  • Undertaking highway or heavy projects such as airports, bridges, water-waste systems, and highways
  • Installing mechanical systems such as heating and cooling systems, plumbing, and much more

5. Aerospace Engineer

Average Annual Salary: $122,270 per year, $58.78 per hour
Job Growth: 8%
Education: Bachelor’s degree

Mechanical engineering graduates can work alongside aerospace engineers with adequate training and education. They are responsible for manufacturing and maintaining aircraft. Thus put, their technical knowledge ensures that their designs and strategies are compatible with the production aspects and requirements of an airport. These professionals may even play a valuable role in managing national defense projects, such as working with spacecraft or on missiles.

6. Industrial Engineering Technologists and Technicians

Average Annual Salary: $60,220
Job Growth: 4%
Education: Associate’s Degree

Industrial engineering technologists and technicians work alongside engineers to solve problems in manufacturing. This can include analyzing quality and relaibility standards, assessing formulas and schematic designs, and collecting data. These professionals must have excellent skills in planning, communications, research, and astute knowledge of equipment and materials. Engineering technologists and technicians work in teams under supervision from industrial engineers.

7. Civil Engineer

Average Annual Salary: $88,050 per year, $42.33 per hour
Job Growth: 8%
Education: Bachelor’s degree

Civil engineering can also be contracting, working on designing, and consulting on various public works and construction projects. They are responsible for facilitating the implementation of extensive works like buildings, dams, highways, bridges, and canals. These professionals typically work closely with other consulting engineers to supervise and evaluate ongoing projects and work.

Civil engineering, often misconstrued as construction engineering, entails designing and constructing roads, buildings, and bridges. The immediate difference between the two fields is that a civil engineer works in relatively more STEM-focused fields. Typically includes the environments where people dwell. The civil engineering field also involves more designing. In contrast, the construction engineers focus on the on-site implementation of the plans developed by civil engineers. Civil engineers ensure that the designs meet state, federal, ad local building codes.

Civil engineers can specialize in various areas, necessitating a robust foundation and knowledge in mathematics, economics, physics, design, and even materials science. Some common examples of these specialization areas include the following:

  • Architectural engineering
  • Geotechnical engineering
  • Water resource engineering
  • Transportation engineering

8. Nuclear Engineer

Average Annual Salary: $120,380 per year, $57.87 per hour
Job Growth: -8% (In decline)
Education: Bachelor’s degree

Nuclear engineers are professionals who offer technical support to nuclear power stations and take part in designing, building, operating, or disassembling the machinery used with atomic power. Some typical roles of mechanical engineers in the nuclear engineering field include the following:

  • Reactor operators
  • Process engineers
  • Quality engineers
  • C&I engineers
  • C&I managers

9. Mechanical Engineer

Average Annual Salary: $95,300 per year, $45.82 per hour
Job Growth: 7%
Education: Bachelor’s degree

A mechanical engineer is a generic job title present within various industries. However, the general job responsibilities for this position include development, design, maintenance, and management. Companies may hire mechanical engineers to develop, test, install new machinery, or work in an advisory capacity to offer consultations on machine maintenance questions or structural engineering.

10. Manufacturing Engineer

Average Annual Salary: $95,300 per year, $45.82 per hour
Job Growth: 14%
Education: Bachelor’s degree

Manufacturing engineers put their degrees to use to help them in the manufacturing industry by emphasizing integrated systems’ design, development, and operation. This prospect allows them and their hiring companies to develop high-quality products that make their mark in a competitive market environment.

11. Biomedical Engineer

Average Annual Salary: $97,410 per year, $46.83 per hour
Job Growth: 6%
Education: Bachelor’s degree

Biomedical engineers touch the lives of most patients; may they be getting a dental implant or a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scan. This fascinating and diverse field of engineering amalgamates engineering design with biological sciences. It thus helps improve human life while advancing the healthcare industry. These professionals offer help to medical practitioners in the evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment of a variety of medical conditions. Some of the everyday products biomedical engineers develop include the following:

  • Wearable technology
  • Prosthetic limbs
  • Dialysis machines
  • Implantable drug delivery systems
  • Injectable nanorobotics
  • Large full-body imaging

Apart from the extensive scope of the responsibilities performed by biomedical engineers, working with biomaterials is critical for the advancement of the healthcare industry in today’s disease-prone world. Some common examples of engineered materials and prospects that have helped revolutionize the healthcare industry include the following:

  • Artificial organs
  • Implants
  • Dental products
  • Pacemakers
  • Stents

12. Sustainable Engineer

Average Annual Salary: $96,820 per year, $46.55 per hour
Job Growth: 4% (Slower than average)
Education: Bachelor’s degree

Sustainable energy is the talk of the town in today’s globalized world. It is at the forefront of all significant environmental agendas. Therefore, the demand for sustainable engineers is increasing. These professionals are primarily responsible for redesigning and retrofitting existing systems by practically applying design and engineering principles and evaluating the production quality, current operations, and deficiencies.

The objective of sustainable engineers is to attain these goals in an environment-friendly way that has a constructive impact on economic and social development without depleting or damaging materials for the coming generations. Some common examples of sustainable design include the following:

  • Solar and wind-powered heating, cooling, and lightening systems
  • Geothermal construction
  • Waste, water, and heat recovery systems

Best Master’s in Mechanical Engineering Jobs

Aspirants attaining a Master's degree in Mechanical Engineering typically have to complete the necessary 30-60 credits in one to two years. These Masters programs include specialized coursework and research prospects in CAD, fluid mechanics, and advanced aeronautics. Individuals interested in supervisory positions may go for graduate business administration classes.

Let us look at the best career opportunities for those with a Master’s degree in mechanical engineering:

Senior Mechanical Engineer

Average Annual Salary: $98,410
Job Growth: 7%
Education: Master’s degree

Senior mechanical engineers are specialized professionals responsible for the research and development of products that help enhance and improve the functioning of mechanical systems. They generally possess exceptional computer skills and a Master’s in mechanical engineering.

Mechanical Engineering Manager

Average Annual Salary: $111,790
Job Growth: 4%
Education: Master’s degree

Mechanical engineering managers usually work as team leaders, lead engineers, and project managers. A considerable portion of their responsibilities includes seamless coordination between project engineers, management staff, and clients. So mechanical engineer managers must possess excellent verbal and written communication skills.

Best Doctorate in Mechanical Engineering Jobs

Mechanical engineers who pursue a doctoral degree in this field have two academic paths they can choose. Individuals interested in the theoretical approach of teaching and research opt for a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering, generally graduating in four to seven years. In contrast, those interested in pursuing a highly specialized engineering degree to increase practice-based career options may opt for a doctor of engineering science (Eng.Sc.D.).

Let us look at some of the best jobs for mechanical engineers with doctorate degrees:

Research Engineer

Average Annual Salary: $ 113,930
Job Growth: 7%
Education: PhD

Research engineers are experts in mechanical engineering and are usually responsible for dealing with large-scale research projects by implementing both interpersonal and scientific skills. Their job responsibilities involve supervising and engaging with research while efficiently imparting information and advancements to clients, upper management, and other engineers. These professionals must possess exceptional technical and analytical skills and generally collaborate with other professionals.

Principal Mechanical Engineer

Average Annual Salary: $119,690
Job Growth: 7%
Education: Bachelor’s

Principal mechanical engineers chalk out mechanical solutions to mediate technical complications in a work environment. These highly skilled professionals collaborate with management, research, and development teams to engage with daily production difficulties, ensuring seamless and effective production strategies.

Top Industries For Mechanical Engineers

Architectural, Engineering, and Related Services

Average Annual Compensation: $97,460

This industry comprises the firms that offer services like the design, development, and construction of bridges, commercial buildings, and other relevant infrastructure. The relevant services include environmental engineering assistance and landscaping.

Machinery Manufacturing

Average Annual Compensation: $85,620

Machinery manufacturing companies in this domain develop the machines necessary to perform specialized tasks or construct products. For instance, a mechanical engineer working in this field may create a device that shapes and maintains metal furniture frames.

Scientific Research and Development Services

Average Annual Compensation: $105,340

Several mechanical engineers uncover innovative technologies, new uses for previously existing technologies, or new manufacturing processes and come under the domain of scientific research and development services. Several of these professionals work in the corporate research sector or academia.

Aerospace Product and Parts Manufacturing

Average Annual Compensation: $104,160

Aerospace and defense firms assemble massive aerospace products such as satellites, missiles, helicopters, rockets, airplanes, and space antennas. These professionals are not the direct employees of the government, but aerospace contractors generally work closely with federal agencies.

Federal Executive Branch

Average Annual Compensation: $98,960

Mechanical engineers can look for employment opportunities in the federal government. They may undertake projects such as assembling stamping machines for government-approved mints, constructing space probes for NASA, assisting with civilian and military infrastructure projects, and responding adequately to emergencies.

The federal government hires mechanical engineers for several projects, such as:

  • Developing space probes for NASA
  • Building stamping machines for government mints
  • Responding to emergencies
  • Assisting with military and civilian infrastructure projects

How to Advance Your Career in Mechanical Engineering

Obtaining advanced education in mechanical engineering paves the way for a more competitive resume and better-paying career opportunities. In addition to the academic benefits, advanced education can also open up various doors for networking opportunities through active participation in professional organizations. Let’s explore how you can advance your career in mechanical engineering and the best professional organizations you should check out:

Licensure and Certifications for Mechanical Engineers

Mechanical engineers who offer specialized services directly to the general public must hold a state license to be eligible for this prospect. Although engineers working in manufacturing or the private sector do not necessarily have to become licensed professional engineers (PEs), PE licensure augments credentials.

Licensure aspirants must have a four-year degree and work experience under the supervision of a licensed and professional engineer for a minimum of four years to be eligible for application. In addition, they must also pass two intensive competency exams. Different states have different licensure regulations, but they ensure that the public-facing engineering projects emphasize public safety.

The National Society of Professional Engineers sets a particular set of national licensure standards and a code of ethics for engineers, irrespective of their practice and specialization. Engineering licenses are only valid in the state that grants them. Aspirants can also seek voluntary certifications. For example, the credentials awarded by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers can advance their resumes and exhibit professional expertise to potential employers.

Professional Organizations for Mechanical Engineering Majors

Several reputed organizations like the Institution of Mechanical Engineers and the Society of Manufacturing Engineers offer resources to students and professional engineers alike. Some expected benefits include continued access to education courses and certification.

The American Society of Mechanical Engineers

The American Society of Mechanical Engineers goes all the way to 1880. It works to promote sciences, arts, and the practice of mechanical engineering and allied sciences. Apart from offering a professional certification program, it provides online and free access to continuing education resources, arranges research events on fluid engineering and nuclear power, and decides process and equipment standards.

Institution of Mechanical Engineers

IMechE is a diverse organization representing about 120,000 mechanical engineers across 140 countries globally. It hosts a digital resource library for engineering students and professionals, provides personalized and in-person training to teams, organizations, and individuals alike, and even offers financial support and advice to students. It also publishes the renowned Professional Engineering magazine.

SME

SME offers human resource development and collaboration opportunities to support manufacturing engineers. It also organizes many research seminars and annual conferences on domains like aerospace, defense industry, and subjects like additive manufacturing applications. The organization also offers several professional certification programs for early, mid, and late-career engineers.

SAE International

The SEA International organization supports mechanical engineers and other related technical experts in the commercial vehicles and automotive industries. It publishes technical papers and journals, offers free professional development opportunities such as accident reconstruction and powertrain technology and safety, provides a scholarship program to aspiring engineers, and supports them through formal certification.

Find an Online Mechanical Engineering Degree Today!

The number of best jobs for mechanical engineers is expanding by the minute. Mechanical engineering is one of the most inclusive and lucrative career choices, offering graduates many employment opportunities. If you want to kickstart your career in mechanical engineering, opting for a Bachelor’s degree program is the most suitable choice to land worthwhile entry-level positions.

Reputed universities and colleges across the US offer online Bachelor’s degree programs in Mechanical Engineering. Online school is highly suitable for students juggling work and home responsibilities with their studies. You can now attain top-notch education comparable to an in-person program, right from the comfort of your home! Head over to GetEducated.com to know more and make an informed choice for your future.

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FAQs

Question: Is mechanical engineering a promising career?
Answer: Yes, mechanical engineering is one of the highly sought-after careers around the globe, offering lucrative and advantageous career opportunities in several fields, including aerospace and manufacturing.

Question: Where do mechanical engineers work?
Answer: Mechanical engineers generally find employment opportunities in various domains, including management, architecture, research, and manufacturing. These professionals typically work in office-based environments but may also engage in fieldwork depending upon their position.

Question: Which career options are available for mechanical engineering graduates?
Answer: Mechanical engineering graduates usually work in scientific research and development, manufacturing, and governmental positions at the Department of Defense and NASA.

Question: Which mechanical engineering job has the highest salary?
Answer: According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, architectural and engineering managers are the highest-paid mechanical engineering professionals, earning an average annual of approximately $152,350 in 2021.